Saturday, 7 December 2013

The lows and highs - premature cria

KJ's premature cria
Hi! It's been a couple of weeks, I know...but slashing paddocks, organising shearing (21st Dec!!! with a shearer from the mainland), making fleece sorting tables, gardening/clearing with a 3year old, intermittent rain/storms and Christmas know how it is!!

Just after we returned from our 'successful' showing, Hubby made a sad discovery in the paddock.  A little cria, probably two days old, had been born.  We think at most it was two days, as that was the most time I hadn't checked the girls.  No-one is due until the second week in January, so it was quite a shock, and we have been busy getting the birthing paddock ready to move the girls all in next week. I wasn't 'allowed' to look, as there wasn't much remaining - the crows had been at it.  Instead, I checked through all the girls, but none showed any sign of birthing, and none were hanging around the area either.  In fact, if Hubby hadn't have found it, I wouldn't of noticed anything different about the girls that day.  Hubby buried the remains, and we were sad to think that our 'first generation MacQuarie Springs' was off to such a bad start.

Then two days ago, we were just leaving to go shopping, after a hectic week of paddock slashing and gardening (getting everything done and burnt off before the fire ban hits) and we saw this as we drove by.

KJ and cria

We shot out of the car, I took these quick photos...and it was all on.  KJ (maiden) had given birth four weeks early to this solid white little fella.  He was freezing, so Hubby's jacket came off immediately as I raced back up to the house for hot water bottles and the cria kit.  Hubby had removed most of the sac from the little one's mouth, and it then coughed up a bit more.  His ears were limp, he was very pink around the mouth and eyes, and KJ was still trying to push out the placenta.  The cria struggled a few times to stand, but he was too weak.  Considering KJ still had the placenta to come, we think he may have been born 15-20 minutes earlier.
Hubby, Alpaca 'Bible' and 'heating' the cria
KJ finally pushed out the placenta, and it was whole (thank goodness), she then started to take an interest in the cria.  Hubby continued with his obs, the heart rate was high and tachycardic.  He then started open mouth breathing, flaring his nostrils.  I rang the vet, and prepared them that we were coming in, they wanted us to bring Mum in too (sadly no-one seems to make house call around here!!), in the mean-time Hubby had assisted the cria to stand and pushed him towards KJ.  His open mouth breathing had stopped, and he was still unsteady (tough little bugger!).  We covered him up and warmed him with hot water bottles whilst we dealt with KJ.

KJ was clueless, and seemed quite shocked about the whole situation.  I haltered her, which she wasn't happy about, and we decided to get some of her colostrum as she just wouldn't let him near her and he was too weak to suckle.  It all seemed a bit too 'hands on', but having lost Vodka's cria last year, we were willing to intervene 'too much' if it meant saving his life.  KJ wouldn't have a bar of being milked, so we got her on the floor, on her side (she was spiting and carrying on, poor thing) and Hubby managed to remove the wax on her teats and get some colostrum from her.  We got as much into him as we could via syringe, and then waited.

Well, talk about a miracle! It was just what he needed, and in ten minutes, he was up by himself.  Still very weak, but trying to get his head under KJ.  Of course all the other 'pacas wanted to make acquaintance and we weren't in a paddock with a pen, so we were continually shoo'ing them out of the way.  Vodka decided that she was the Aunt; clicked and spat on everyone, including KJ, which made KJ even more confused and she again kept walking away from him as he was trying to suckle.  Little one kushed again, so we 'warmed' him and grabbed KJ to repeat the process.  We went through this three times until he was able to stand a bit better, and we thought he had a 'good chance' of making it.

As poor KJ was simply not understanding what she was meant to do, but at least she was humming...we decided to move them both up two paddocks, to the birthing paddock, and pen them both together.  Hubby carried the cria, and I led KJ who was humming loudly, and we were followed by the rest of the herd and 3y.o up through the paddocks like a carnival procession. Vodka was still the most interested in the proceedings, so we thought we would pen her with KJ and the cria.  We immediately saw this was a mistake, as Vodka just spat at KJ every time the cria went to her and KJ didn't know what to do.  None of the other girls would come to the pen, and with only the two of us, we couldn't grab another to replace Vodka.  We decided to kick Vodka out, and as KJ could see the others, just leave the two of them to bond.

I had to call the vet and discuss the progress, plus put my little man to bed.  So I left Hubby with them, and headed back to the house.  Once everything was done, and a cup of tea made for Hubby amidst 3y olds exciting rendition of 'baba paca', 'mummy paca', 'oohhhh sick baby', 'doctor' and 'hosbital', I drove out to buy some replacement milk in case we needed it.

Meanwhile, Hubby had been able to milk KJ, whilst the baby was under her, but the cria was too weak to latch on.  We fed him via syringe, from KJ's milk, over the next two hours.  He was walking around, and KJ seemed to have gotten used to the idea of mummy-hood, and allowed him to (attempt to) suckle.  He was a bit confused, and kept going to Hubby for more milk - so after feeding KJ (and she was very hungry) we reduced the intervention and we left them to it in the pen, checking back every half hour.
Who is my Mum?????

KJ's teats became swollen at last, and the cria was finally able to latch on, and came away with milk on his lips and his little tongue greedlily licking his chops :D  We put him in Daughter's handmade cria jacket, and 3y.old came down to have a quick look.  I was worried about him making it through the night, as KJ wasn't consistent in allowing him to feed from her, yet he was consistently seeking milk.  We made up some (lamb/kid/cria) replacement milk, and fed him via a syringe and teat.  It was getting cold and late, so I put him in a dog jacket and we decided to supplement him every four hours. 

At 11.00pm, he was doing well, standing and feeding - so we topped him up and went to bed.  At 3.00am, he was kushed next to Mum, but both stood on our arrival and he headed straight under her.  I was so very happy to hear sucking!!!! He came away after a while, having obviously enjoyed a big drink, so we didn't supplement but headed quietly back to the house.  At 6.00am, mum and baby were doing fine!! We gave him some VitD orally, and checked him over, checked KJ over and both were quite happy.  Hubby had to go to work, but as KJ really wanted to go out with the others, I gave her until lunch time to 'bond' and then let her out with the others (thinking that if she failed as a Mum again, I could get her back in the pen when Hubby came home and repeat the process).  Happily, the cria stuck next to KJ in the paddock, withstanding the kisses and nibbles of the rest of the herd.  I was so happy, he now have more than a 'good chance' of making it - he had every chance!  I decided that our first-generation Macquarie Springs cria would be named that...'Good Chance'.  3y old like the name Chance, which quickly became 'oohhh, baby Chance'!

Then, coming back through the garden, as only I could, I fell and twisted my ankle.  Long story short, a trip to the hospital and x-rays reveal a very bad sprain and no weight-bearing for the next three days, and crutches for a week arghhhhhhh!!!! Who cares?  Chance is running around the paddock, he looks just like Eclipse (Sire) and is already covered in very dense fleece like his Mum, so fingers crossed that he will continue to make good progress :)


  1. Well done! Great name and lovely looking boy.

    Bad luck with the ankle...just what you need! Hope you running around again soon. X

  2. Aahh! Great job with the cria, well done! This seems to have been a year of premature cria.

    Very sorry about the ankle - it all happens at once.

  3. Well done Team Macquarie - result! An excellent effort giving the wee fella a great start. Love the photos of 3y.o! Hope the ankle gets better soon. Shirley & Robbie

  4. Great blog ! Thanks, and well done.